Ramona Park, a neighborhood park at 3301 E. 65th St. in North Long Beach, would be the best location for a new community swimming pool, according to a preliminary study by the city’s Parks, Recreation and Marine Department.
The study was prompted by a recommendation almost a year ago from the City Council to study feasibility and costs for a new pool. The request was prompted by a desire to more equitably distribute resources, the report says.
“Residents in North, West, and Central Long Beach have less access to parks and open space and a life expectancy that is 17 years less than residents in East Long Beach,” Brent Dennis, director of Parks, Recreation and Marine, said in his introduction to the report. “Increased access to parks and recreational opportunities is one of many factors that can improve the quality of life and health outcomes for residents of under resourced communities.”
The study was done while the city moves forward on a regional Belmont Beach Aquatics Center estimated to cost $85 million to $100 million.
“Our plans to build a community pool in North Long Beach took a big step forward,” Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, Ninth District councilman, said last week in an email to residents. “The Parks, Recreation and Marine Department recently completed the North Long Beach Pool Feasibility Study, and Ramona Park was identified as the top choice for a new community pool. While the City is still determining possible funding sources to complete a new pool project, this update demonstrates that our Open Spaces Plan is still moving in the right direction.”
Long Beach currently operates three community pools —Silverado Pool, Martin Luther King Jr. Pool and the Belmont Plaza Pool, which is a temporary above-ground pool. The report also discusses the Cabrillo High School pool, which it calls a good model, although it covers more space than most community pools.
Parks considered as potential sites were Ramona, Houghton, Scherer, Coolidge, Davenport, DeForest and Jackson. The last four were eliminated quickly for reasons ranging from size to, in Davenport’s case, a landfill beneath the park.
A pool at Scherer would be possible, but the two-level topography would make that difficult. That park is also on the very edge of North Long Beach and serves a less-disadvantaged area, according to the report. Houghton, the largest park in North Long Beach, is a feasible location, but would be redundant, at least in the summer, when the Jordan High School pool is available to the public.
Ramona Park is seven acres and already features a baseball diamond, a soccer field, two tennis courts, a basketball court, a volleyball court/roller hockey rink and playground. There also is a community center and a state grant of $1.5 million is in place to rebuild the playground. Still, there would be room for a community recreational pool, the report concludes.
If a pool is built, it should be operated seven days a week, according to the report, unlike the Silverado and MLK pools. That would cost an estimated $1 million a year.
Funding sources range from the city’s Measure A infrastructure sales tax to creating a regional park and open space district, or applying for state and other grants. A more detailed feasibility study specific to Ramona Park is funded with $50,000, with no completion date offered.